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“Paradise, plain and simple”
Review of Manuel Antonio

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San Diego, CA
2 reviews
3 helpful votes
“Paradise, plain and simple”
Reviewed October 8, 2009

We spent four nights in Manuel Antonio at the end of our trip and I think we both could have just stayed there for our whole time. The place we stayed helped (Lunatica guest house) but the entire area is just amazing. The beach outside of the national park was as good as it gets with strong, warm waves and an incredible view. The national park was very cool even though we didn't have a guide... saw an awful/amazing spider and many monkeys.

We will definitely be back and for a much longer time!

2 Thank JoshCanHelp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
30 helpful votes
“My favorite place in Costa Rica”
Reviewed September 27, 2009

I lived in Manuel Antonio for several months, and I can easily say it is my favorite place in Costa Rica. A small, chill beach town, with lots of happy, beautiful people and even more beautiful ocean, jungle, and wildlife. Spend a little time here, and you will figure out what Ticos have known forever, happiness is not bought by things or houses, but comes from taking the time to be in the moment and spend time with friends and family.

Manuel Antonio is a great place to learn to surf, if you are interested. You can secure a lesson from any of the Ticos on the beach, but make sure to negotiate your price because they will try to get the most you will give. If they do a great job, tip them! They need to make a living!

One "scam" that they have there is asking for money to park on the public road leading to the park. You do not have to pay to park anywhere in Manuel Antonio, so when they ask you this, just let them know that you live there (Even if you dont) and you know that parking is free. Dont be fulled by the orange vest, its still a scam.

By far the best restaurant in Manuel Antonio is Barba Rohas (sp??)-- on the main road overlooking the pacific with the skull and crossbones on the sign. THE BEST FOOD IN COSTA RICA, in my opinion. Dont miss it! THe prices are also reasonable.

Enjoy! And remember to be respectful and take in the lessons you can learn there from these amazing people.

Pura Vida!

Thank duma83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
6 helpful votes
“A wonderful natural experience topped off with a great beach day!”
Reviewed September 2, 2009

This park is a must-do for anyone who is near Manuel Antonio. It is beautiful, even with the tourist traffic, and the beaches are wonderful. Most importantly, we recommend an early morning tour of the park with our favorite guide, Henry Pizarro. Henry was a high school teacher and not only is his English great, he really engages adults and children in the tour by sharing facts and showing us some incredible things we surely would have missed had we not gone with a guide. Ask to take photos from his high-powered telescope - you will get great shots of animals, insects, and other fun things that live in the park. We all learned so much about the area and the wildlife that really stuck with us. He is wonderful and a lot of fun for a guide. Worth the money and the time!!

Thank ChicagoMom24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
7 helpful votes
“Some usefull information about M.A. that I hope you won't need!”
Reviewed August 11, 2009

It's up to you if you want to include M.A. in your trip through C.R., enough has been written about this place. But if you do go, here's some advise that I hope you won't need; it's about medical assistance. Our son got a terrible ear-infection and went through horrible pains for days (and nights!). We asked our hotel for a good doctor, and they sent us to Emergencias 2000 in Quepos, like most hotels would do. This was supposed to be a great doctor who speaks fluent english. To cut a long story short, she spoke no english at all and after two visits she gave us the wrong medicins and painkillers. And charged us 75 USD per consult. Two days later our son showed no improvements, and we got worried. By coincidence we got the name of another doctor, Dr Carlos Zuniga. Carlos does speak fluent english, gave the right (and cheaper) medications and very effective painkillers and saved our holiday. And charged us a lot less. And was 24/7 available, called us to see how our son was doing, and even kept in touch with us when we were in Pto Jimenez. At no extra charge. I want you to write down his number, take it with you and let's hope you don't need it; [--]!

Later I found out that most hotels in M.A. recommend Emergencias 2000 because they get a commission or personal benefits. Funny enough the owners of the same hotels don't go there when their kids need medical assistance; most of them come to Carlos!

1 Thank Enrico1964
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
16 helpful votes
“Manuel Antonio National Park -- My take.”
Reviewed July 23, 2009

I went to Manuel Antonio National Park for straight nine days: it's the only way to go to a beach that resembles a good Caribbean beach. A Costa Rican habit is to try to gouge you at every transaction, and no less with the National Park fee. That is not to say that some of the people I met were very good at their jobs. Especially a particular driver who saved me from driving in a country where traffic cops, backed by Draconian traffic laws (a cop can confiscate your vehicle for speeding, for instance), they extort hundreds of dollars daily from tourists driving rentals.

Fine amounts are going to triple, pending legislation, so the public cow milking will soon start with a $500 negotiating base. How good can you negotiate ... a traffic ticket....? Are you willing to attend two court hearings month's apart, miles away to fight the extortion?

The Park Fees were $7 per day per person but went up recently to $10. Nationals and residents pay ~$3.

Still, it beats staying on Beach One (Playa Uno), a wide front conspicuous for rip tides, and the hotels' storm drains emptying into it. This beach has a pretty good road running its length with a few bars and shops facing the sea.

Things get better in Beach Two (Playa Dos): It's a wide receding bay with pale sand, remarkable rock formations, and pretty green trees down to the tide line. Under the canopy a wide trail runs the length of Playa Dos never far from the sand. The pretty trees the water touches first are rows of "Manzanillo" -- a dangerous tree due to the large quantities of caustic sap contained in its leaves, twigs, bark, and fruit. "Don't touch, Wash Your Hands If You Have."

The next beach is Playa Tres. Though smaller, in shape and size it resembles St. Thomas' Magens Bay. About 1/4 of the bay's length at its center faces the open sea; in the enclosed sides the beach has less surf and no rip tides. On the white sand you find armies of hermit crabs carrying the borrowed shell of rock snails or some other empty shell. They are harmless, bad food, and good pets.

Playa Tres has the fewest Manzanillo trees. It's the beach to go.

All beaches, however, lacked qualities many find desirable in a beach. water depth increases sharply within 50feet of the beach, expanses of sand mix with rocks and stones litter the floor much like in inland secondary roads.

I much prefer a long tapering soft beach like Miami's South Beach of the beaches of Formentera, Spain. I am not alone.

Visibility under water is a big problem. Never see your feet again as soon as water reaches your waist. Forget snorkeling. Snorkeling tours are available for $35, and take place elsewhere. A friend of mine was quite happy with it.

Of all the ecology I liked the trees and other vegetation best: incredible forms and trees I've never seen before. Tarzan stuff. The fauna is different. You may not feed them, but it's hard not to: monkeys steal the lunch of idle bathers every time they try, dropping what they don't value from the a tree top.

Lots of iguanas and Jesus Christ lizards


It's remarkable for a tropical country but I never saw a cockroach, in or out of the park. It must be all those lizards of all shapes and sizes making whole lower species scarce.

You can hire a certified park guide for a negotiable price to see the forest in more detail. They use binoculars on tripods to spy up the canopy. It was worth it for us.

The park closes at 4 PM, which a bit early since there is no tearing down to do because the park is almost bare of services.

The fact that there is a dedicated corp of rangers working at the park speaks much of Porto Rican priorities when it comes to the environment, they do care and are relatively well organized.

On leaving over came the sense that the Manuel Antonio National Park biological treasures, even with adequate conservation efforts ongoing, the park is being poorly stewarded. Too many cars are allowed in. Staff should be given electric cars. Some easy distance outside the park their should be a seafront with cool places to congregate for the evening and start up some night life.

The park has potential to rival most parks if only it were made to live up to the best of its possibilities, and meet the expectations of people who have enjoyed the parks Orlando, for example, or other real natural parks.

They need good access roads, well-maintained trails, enhancing if not staging beauty spots. The park would have its authenticity over all artificial parks, and some splendid services could be established without negative impact.

Yosemite has a hotel after all and it remains a beautiful wild place.

Do yourself a favor before leaving, drive to Orotina, Fruit City, and eat a very ripe 'zapote.' It's a fruit the size of a cantaloupe but of an unremarkable earthy brown color. When ripe it peels like a cold cooked yam. Local artists use the seed in crafts. It is a delight to discover a great new fruit you didn't know. This one's taste is sweetly characteristic and hard to put down.


2 Thank Diver91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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